Jak leads rides for homeless as Big Bike Revival sparks a summer of cycling

Kallum Thomas (left) and Jak Davies at the national launch of Cycling UK's Big Bike Revival at Ceracycloan in Stockport
Jak Davies is helping his fellow homeless in Stockport discover the huge health benefits of cycling – with help from local bike recycling and repair centre Ceracycloan and Cycling UK’s Big Bike Revival.

Jak, who has bipolar affective disorder, has been living in temporary accommodation for about three months but has been carrying out voluntary bike maintenance at Ceracyloan and been trained as a Ride Leader so he can take others out on two wheels.

The 27-year-old expected just a handful of people to say they wanted to go out cycling, and was overwhelmed when 30 expressed an interest.

Despite his own issues, Jak is keen to help others in his situation and is volunteering for the homeless advocacy charity H3 – whose Development Officer, Molly Bishop, has also been trained as a Ride Leader.

The ex-police Trek mountain bike Jak now rides was fixed up and made usable by another Ceracycloan volunteer, 15-year-old Kallum Thomas.

Kallum, who is fostered, struggled at mainstream school and is on a special programme for teenagers at the centre in Higher Hillgate.

Jak and Kallum showed off their bike maintenance skills for the TV cameras when Ceracycloan hosted the national launch of Cycling UK’s award-winning Big Bike Revival at the end of June.

The Stockport centre is one of over 100 around the country which are running Big Bike Revival events until the end of August following the huge success of last year’s scheme, which brought more than 24,000 bikes back into use and resulted in over 21,000 people cycling more often.

In Stockport and elsewhere, there are friendly mechanics on hand to make repairs or show people easy maintenance tips, activities for all ages to enjoy, and plenty of ways to learn how you can make the most of the summer by bike – with many deprived communities being helped in the process.

Physical health isn’t a priority when you are homeless – you have more important issues, like just where to sleep and how to eat.”

Jak Davies

Jak, who hails from the Reddish area of Stockport, said: “I wanted to get some group bike rides together through H3 with other people in temporary accommodation and came to see Brian Pendlebury, the Ceracyloan Centre Director, off the cuff to see how I might go about it.

“Brian is so passionate about what he does and explained Ceracycloan’s work and their strong restorative ethos, which works on so many levels. It appealed so much to me, so I volunteered to help here a couple of days a week. Learning new skills is a great platform to find new work.

“I’ve had mental health problems in the past but I’ve cycled for a long time and know that exercise on a bike can bring so many benefits.

“Physical health isn’t a priority when you are homeless – you have more important issues, like just where to sleep and how to eat.

“I never expected so many people to say they wanted to come out on led bike rides, there was a far bigger demand than there are places. But hopefully we can get more ride leaders trained up in future and this can just grow and grow to help Stockport’s homeless community.”

Kallum has grown in confidence while learning bike mechanic and interpersonal skills since his first visit to Ceracycloan about two and a half months ago, and now works there three days a week.

He said: “I like working hands-on so this is the ideal place for me. It relieves stress – you can take out your stress on the bike, by fixing it.

“It’s trial and error sometimes but I really enjoy it, and if I have to stay late to finish something, I will. The team here are great and make you feel supported.”

Centre Director Brian Pendlebury said: “It’s so satisfying to see a young person come of their shell. It’s a really nice feeling.”

If you want to find your nearest bicycle recycle centre head to www.bigbikerevival.org.uk